There is a significant need for teaching resources and professional development that assist teachers in better demonstrating to their students the research practices of scientists and how they apply critical thinking skills to solve problems. The best source of authentic, current, and topical research is scientists themselves, however, research scientists are often not trained to communicate their science to a broad audience.
This project addressed these barriers to the advancement of public understanding of science by creating the Virginia Scientists and Educators Alliance (VA SEA). Through the program, sixteen graduate students from Virginia Sea Grant-affiliated universities were trained on effective science communication and teaching strategies and tasked with creating lesson plans for K-12 students based on their own research methods. The students developed lesson plans with guidance from educators at Chesapeake Bay Reserve in Virginia and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science's Marine Advisory Program, as well as teacher reviewers. The final lesson plans were presented to teachers from across the state in a final expo, and are now available online for use in K-12 classrooms.